Formerly "A Movie A Day" :/

Monday, July 27, 2009

Killing of a Chinese Bookie: Director's Cut - 1978 - Dir. Cassavetes

Originally released in uhhh... 1976, Killing of a Chinese Bookie did terribly. Eventually, after filming Opening Night, Cassavetes re-edited the film, cutting out about half an hour and changing up quite a few things. I'll sound like THIS guy and say, I liked the longer version more. And generally I'm one for brevity, I like my movies short. But still, a lot of things felt a little lost in this version. I'm not saying this is bad by any means, of course, it manages to keep most of the golden moments of the original intact. It does streamline the story, making some pretty reasonable cuts. In the 1976 version, we spend a good chunk of the film hanging out in his strip club, which is surprisingly enough, incredibly dull, but I think those dull bits really paid off in the end, shaping the movie and Ben Gazarra's character. Speaking of which, Ben Gazarra was incredible. This was the first Cassavete's film I've seen and it took a little while to get used to the way his films flowed and the way his people spoke but after a while, it really worked for me. As I watched Killing, it was the first time in a while that I felt I was watching someone very daring at work. The same way I felt when I began watching Godard, minus the slight shame of enjoying something a little pretentious. I felt like I was watching someone who knew exactly what they were doing and I couldn't presuppose where they were going. Which, for me, is very thilling. ALSO! Hadji from Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! was in it! What a crazy looking lady!

I don't understand Ben Gazarra's face right now. I JUST DON'T GET IT.

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